Tough Interview

30 Questions and Answers by

Rachelle Enns is an interview coach and job search expert. She works with candidates to perform their best in employment, medical, and post-secondary admission interviews.

Tough was updated on December 5th, 2020. Learn more here.

Question 1 of 30

What is your biggest regret?

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Tough Interview

  1. 1.

    What is your biggest regret?

      How to Answer

      Think about a time you failed, or made a big mistake. What would you change about that situation, if you have an opportunity for a re-do? Perhaps there is a missed opportunity that you still regret not taking. This question sounds more intimidating than it is. Even though the interviewer is asking about your most significant regret, you indeed don't have to share the worst mistake you have ever made in your life. Make sure that you keep your answer professional and career-related.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I had an opportunity to study under one of the top personal trainers in the country, but I was so busy with my clients that I didn't take the chance. Looking back, I know I could have learned so much from them. Now I pay much closer attention to educational or training opportunities that come my way."

      Rachelle's Answer for an Admin Interview

      "I do not believe in living life with regrets; however, if there is one thing I could change about my career path, I would have completed my business administration degree before entering the workforce. It's ten times as tough to complete my education now that I am taking online courses on the weekends! I do look forward to finishing what I started, though! My estimated completion date is this April."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Manager Interview

      "I am of the belief that it live is meant to be lived without regrets. Does that mean you don't fail or learn from mistakes? Not at all. We all make choices in life, and we should embrace them, and adapt when we want to change course. JK Rowling has a great quote that comes to mind when asked about regrets. She says, 'Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.' That sums out how I feel about failure and regrets."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Marketing Interview

      "I feel pretty fortunate that I don't have many regrets, but I'd say the one that would nag at me most would be that I didn't leap into marketing sooner. I think my career would be on an even better trajectory if I'd jumped about six months earlier. However, I am where I am today because of the decisions I made, and I feel great about where I am today and the prospect of working here!"

      Rachelle's Answer for a Retail Interview

      "The most significant regret I have would be not advocating for myself early on in my career. I believe I was passed up for two promotions that I deserved because I was too concerned with being friendly and likable. I missed out on opportunities to advocate how I was the best for the position because I didn't want to ruffle any feathers or be unlikable. Luckily, I've learned quite a bit since, and I've earned plenty of promotions since, however, I sometimes wonder where my career might be if I would have received those promotions early on. Nevertheless, I know I've learned plenty from those experiences of being passed over."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Sales Interview

      "The most prominent regret I have is with my most recent career move. Despite doing my due diligence, and working with an experienced headhunter, the role was not what it was supposed to be, and the company was in complete disarray. Despite this misstep, I did learn a lot over the past year. I stuck it out, adapted to the changes, and have made the best of it, despite the bait-and-switch and multiple leadership changes. I honestly don't know what I could have done differently, besides not taking the position. Because of that, I feel that it was put in my path as a learning moment and to test my resilience. I feel as though I've passed the test and it is time for the next opportunity."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Teacher Interview

      "My biggest career-related regret is my choice to enter the private school sector before entering the public school sector. I found a home, and a new passion for teaching, once I began working in the public school system. I wish I had chosen this path all along!"

      Clara's Answer for a Translator Interview

      "The most challenging text I've translated was an excerpt from Land Girls by Angela Huth. It was one of my first ever translations, and it was from English to French - native to non-native. Even though the Source Text was in English, I had no familiarity with the content, the region, or the time period. I felt like I was in completely uncharted territory. I had to begin the process of learning how to immerse myself in research to make meaning of the unfamiliar. At the time, feeling like I had to invent the wheel for myself was very challenging. As a result of this experience and several more since, I now feel far more comfort and ease translating similarly unfamiliar texts."

      Lindsay's Answer for an Analytical Chemist Interview

      "What I enjoy most about my current role are the data review and validation aspect. After the chemists do an experimental assignment or a client assignment, I take the results and review the data and analyze them from beginning to end to make sure they make sense and that no errors were made along the way. It is nice to be able to validate the results or say 'hey this piece doesn't make sense and here is why...' it's a very fulfilling feeling."

      Heather's Answer for an Addiction Nurse Interview

      "I believe acting calmly and speaking rationally is a great way to calm someone who is angry and I try to be the voice of reason without making someone feel that I am belittling them."

      Rachelle's Answer for a Medical Transcriptionist Interview

      "I do have experience working with electronic health records. While different facilities may use different types of EHRs, overall programs are very similar. I have to say that I do like the fact that we can now use EHRs to store patient information. It makes it much easier to retrieve information and transmit it, when needed."

      Heather's Answer for a Substance Abuse Counselor Interview

      "One of my psychology 201 exams didn't go as planned. It forced me to re-evaluate my study habits which improved my test scores."

      Krista's Answer for a Therapeutic Recreation Specialist Interview

      "The biggest disappointment in my career was when the CEO eliminated a therapeutic program at the facility where I was working with dementia patients. The patients were making great progress with their memory, but the facility shut down the program due to budget cuts, and I lost my job."

      Christina's Answer for a Corporate Copywriter Interview

      "I have regretted taking a low level position when I knew I deserved a better position in a company. However, I have learned to value myself higher and shoot higher so I do not have that feeling again."

      Rachelle's Answer for an Audio Engineer Interview

      "My biggest disappointment is when speakers or anchors speak out of turn and I clip the beginning part of their speaking. However, this is something that I will over time have to be better at anticipating."

      Ronda's Answer for an Art Director Interview

      "In my last role, I was working on a Parisian magazine and had to manage two local and two international graphic designers. Due to the difference in culture and work styles, there were a lot of communication gaps. As an art director, I had to step in and hold regular meetings so that each designer could discuss daily progress and deadlines to resolve issues even before things got heated. This project was disappointing because I had to micromanage my team, which is not my managerial style. However, I did learn that once people get to know each other and start working together, it is smooth sailing!"

      Rachelle's Answer for a Sous Chef Interview

      "The biggest disappointment that I faced as a sous chef was when the fine dining restaurant that I worked at a few years ago, closed down. I really loved that job and the cuisine was incredible. Unfortunately, the economy wasn't strong enough to generate enough clientele for a fine dining establishment."

      Marcie's Answer for a Public Relations Manager Interview

      "Within my prior roles, I have established a vast network of influencers, executives, and media types. When I meet new people in the course of different campaigns I run, I always take the time to follow up with them and connect with them over social media, email, or the phone. You never know when someone's skills or background might be useful in future endeavors. Having said that, I make sure to give back in my relationships as well, and I believe that my contacts trust me and consider me a friend. Some media contacts that I've made over the years include John Smith from Acme and Mary Lee from ABC. If I'm hired, I am confident that I'll be able to utilize these contacts and others to benefit your company and its PR campaigns."

      Heather's Answer for an Addiction Counselor Interview

      "Being understanding is key to working with any client. With someone fighting addiction, it is especially important. When someone with a substance abuse addiction comes for treatment, it is not always because they want to. Whether it is court-ordered or the family gives an ultimatum, many of them come in unwilling. However, there are times that, even if they come to us with some resistance, with support and encouragement, they begin to see some hope of what life can be like if they are drug free. Knowing this information, I always try to be sympathetic to their fears, but also offer them a look at what they can accomplish if they overcome their addictions. Confrontation never works; so, if someone tells me they are not going to stop using, I tell them it is their right, but while they are with me, we still have to address what could result with continued use and the possibility of what life could be like without drugs."

      Heather's Answer for a Bacteriology Technician Interview

      "I have had many disappointments, like most people, but I believe that we learn from all the experiences we have in life and that the disappointments, as well as the accomplishments, make us stronger and better able to deal with many different situations."

      Sue's Answer for an Editor Interview

      "My biggest disappointment is that I was not given a full-time offer at the end of my internship this past summer. However, my manager explained that interns had no full-time offers due to a temporary hiring freeze. He also noted that if and when that freeze was lifted, I would be the first to whom they would be making an offer. In retrospect, I chose the internship for the experience and role as a junior editor and didn't look as closely at how things were going at a corporate earnings level. However, it has given me the opportunity to explore other options have the opportunity to meet with other employers such as you."

      Heather's Answer for an Alcohol and Drug Counselor Interview


      Allison's Answer for an Engineer Interview

      "When I first graduated college, I thought I wanted to be a geotechnical engineer. However, the only offer I got was in the field of site design and municipal utilities. At first, I was pretty disappointed, but soon I found out that my natural ability for communication was really beneficial in the site design sector because of all the public meetings I ended up having to go to. I still get the chance sometimes to read soil boring reports and design drainage structures, so I still get to use some of that Geotech knowledge anyways. It's ended up being a pretty good combination."

      William's Answer for an Application Developer Interview

      "There are several best practices you should follow to migrate applications between and across platforms. These include performing an assessment, mapping out a strategy, developing a governance format, ensuring licensing issues are addressed, and testing (and retesting) before releasing the application into production. Following these best practices will ensure a smooth and successful migration."

      Christina's Answer for a News Researcher Interview

      "I once took a job as a cook in a restaurant but realized I did not like the late hours at night. I find that I work best in the morning, and I hope this makes me a good fit as a morning side researcher or a day side one."

      Heather's Answer for an Allergist Interview

      "My biggest disappointment comes when I am unable to alleviate someone's symptoms as much as I want to. I truly wish that it was always a happy ending for everyone that sees me. I am able to focus on the positive, however; realizing that I am able to help the majority of people I come across."

      Christina's Answer for a Production Director Interview

      "I regret taking a position in college as an on-air talent. I find that I am best behind the scenes, instead of directly in the production. While I am glad I learned what it is like to be talent in the production, which helps me to relate to them, I probably embarrassed myself on stage and I much prefer being behind the curtain."

      Nisha's Answer for an Underwriter Interview

      "I have always worked hard in my whole career for ensuring that we get the best clients for our organization but this one time I was really disappointed when we lost one of our big accounts to a competitor because they got a better deal with them. This took me by surprise as this was a really old account and they always used to renew with us only. Although this deeply saddened me but I decided that instead of being sad about losing this one, I would rather focus on bringing changes in our strategy and focusing on getting some new clients. As a result of our efforts we were able to acquire some big accounts and since then we have always ensured to review our strategy on a regular basis to see if there is any scope for improvement."

      3 Community Answers

      Anonymous Answer

      "I had a JCAPHO class I could of went to for extra credits for the Eye clinic. I missed it due to being so busy at work. I want to try to go to more of these classes when they become available to build my skills and keep learning."

      Rachelle's Answer

      It's great that you recognize the importance of attending these classes, which will help get you to your end goal!

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      Anonymous Answer

      "My biggest regret is that when I was running my own consultancy, I focused my attention on execution and none on marketing and networking. As a result, when the main client merged with their biggest competitor, I lost most of my business. The biggest takeaway from this is that if I ever do this again, I need to spend some of my week, say 15 %, on marketing, writing blogs, and networking with clients."

      Rachelle's Answer

      It sounds like a lesson to learn, indeed! One suggestion is to avoid mentioning going out on your own again, as this could have the interviewer feeling that you would not stay long-term if hired. I have offered a slight revision below.

      "My biggest regret is the way that I set up my business when running my consultancy. I focused all of my attention on execution and put little emphasis on marketing and networking. As a result, when my main client merged with their biggest competitor, I lost most of my business. The biggest takeaway for me is that every business should dedicate a percentage of their time to marketing efforts such as distributing digital content and networking with prospects and clients."

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      Anonymous Answer

      "My biggest regret is not completing college before entering the workforce. Competition is tough to beat with taking only part-time, weekend, and night classes. I do look forward to finishing what I started, acquiring my bachelor's degree, to moving up to a senior or supervisor position."

      Marcie's Answer

      This is a strong answer because while your regret is legitimate, you explain your desire to one day overcome it by obtaining your degree. Perhaps talk a bit about why you didn't finish college so the interviewer understands what happened. And definitely emphasize any plans you have to take additional courses in pursuit of getting your degree in the future.

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